North Korean younger couples are opting for
mobile phones when it comes to engagement gifts, knocking out the
conventional “couple ring option” that had previously been so popular.
“In small and mid-sized cities, the
top-ranking present for tying the knot is no question the mobile phone. After
that, come couple rings,” a source based in North
Hamgyung Province told the Daily NK on Friday. She went on to note that unlike many cultures, giving engagement rings and exchanging weddings bands are not common practices in North Korea.
In the North, mobile phones have become a
symbol of the younger generation. The source explained that they are popular as
gifts for to-be-wed couples because they enable them to chat like they are in
the same room even though they may be in different locations. Because of this,
a younger woman wielding a mobile phone leads most to assume she is
either soon to be married or in a serious relationship.
“Apart from women in affluent families, if
you’re from a poor family or single, it’s hard to own a mobile phone,” the source
elaborated. “Women have so much to invest in, like
household goods, cosmetics, and clothes that it’s hard
for them to think about getting one of those devices.”
to local [North Korean] phones, foreign [South Korean] handsets look fancier,
and smart phones are especially popular.”
In the North, there are three types of
handsets: the flip phone, the slide version, and the touch-screen model.
Mobile phones [Orascom Telecom Media and
Technology models] sold at local telecom device shops in every region of the
North fetch 200-300 USD [1USD = 8,000 KPW], while the North Korea-made “Arirang Touch Phone [smartphone]” goes for
400 USD, according to a survey conducted in June by the Daily NK.
Given 1 kg of rice in the marketplace sells
for roughly 6,500 KPW, as of Oct. 15th, the devices come with a hefty price
tag. Because of this, children of Party cadres and the upper, middle classes
exchange these phones as gifts after getting engaged, the source
The number of North Korean mobile users has
been on a continual rise, and as of May last year, it is said to have surpassed
the 2 million subscriber mark, meaning that roughly one out of 12 people in the
country own a mobile device.